Beach is man-made and fronts a lagoon, not the ocean
Some rooms are small; some have poor views
Rooms close to the pools can be loud during high season
Can be a bit rowdy during high season, despite being a family-friendly resort
Sprawling; an be a 10-minute walk from rooms to the lobby
Gym and spa are on the Heaven side of the complex (reached by golf cart)
The 687-room Hard Rock Riviera Maya is an upscale all-inclusive resort that pushes hard to instill its brand name. Expect rock-themed rooms, all with jetted tubs and balconies (some with ocean views). There are three pools, six restaurants, two kids' clubs, a constant barrage of adventure activities, a convention center, and Wi-Fi even in the remote areas. Note that even though this is the family-friendly side of the Hard Rock complex (sister resort Heaven at Hard Rock is for adults only), it can still get a bit rowdy during high season. The biggest downside here is the man-made beach on a lagoon; for a natural beach on the ocean, consider the Hard Rock Hotel Cancun instead.
The family-friendly "Hacienda" side of the Hard rock complex
The Hard Rock is known for its rock-themed hotels and restaurants, and the Riviera Maya location lives up to the reputation of the brand. There's a constant stream of music throughout the entire property, from The Hacienda (the main building) to the pools to the man-made beach. Add to that the memorabilia hanging everywhere, and it’s hard to forget where you are. The Hacienda is the hub of the property, and houses the lounge, public computers, theater, kids' clubs, some of the restaurants, and lobby.
Even though this is the family-friendly Hacienda side of the Hard Rock complex, things can get a bit rowdy during high season. The resort does try its best to keep the bulk of its more adult-oriented activities and bars on the Heaven side of the property. The Hacienda side only has two bars compared to Heaven’s seven, for example, and there are two kids' clubs on this side: one for those under 12 and a teens' lounge for those up to 18. Things were fairly low-key when we visited, with a children’s show going on in the Hacienda lounge area, and plenty of families at the pools and on the beaches.
The hotel operates a license with Hit Entertainment, which allows characters such as Barney and Thomas the Tank to be featured in the resort shows, further upping the family-friendly factor. Note that guests of the Heaven side can access the facilities here, and any adult guests on the Hacienda side can also access Heaven. Though there is a small teens' gym on this side, the main gym and spa are on the Heaven side, and can be a bit of a pain to reach; the Hard Rock complex is sprawling, and though there are regular golf cart shuttles, guests may find themselves walking more than anticipated during their stay.
In the heart of the Puerto Aventuras, with sunrise views over the Mexican Caribbean
The Hard Rock is on the Puerto Aventuras coast, an area known for its combination of jungle lagoon, sandy beaches, rocky points, and beautiful sunrise views over the ocean. The snorkeling here is a major high point, but the beach itself is man-made and a bit of a let-down.
The property is a good hour-and-a-half from the airport with traffic. It’s situated midway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum to the south, known for its adventure parks such as Xcaret or Xplore.
Rock-themed, upscale rooms with whirlpool tubs and balconies, some with ocean views
There are 687 in eight different categories, ranging from the small Deluxe Gold Rooms to two-bedroom Suites to the huge Rock Star Suite. The Deluxe Gold rooms come with a king-size or two full-size beds; families may find the latter option a bit too cramped. Pure Rooms have an air filter and are specifically designed for guests with allergies. Decor incorporates deep orange walls, ceramic tile floors that look like wood, and contemporary furniture that blends dark trim with natural brown elements. There is usually guitar imagery incorporated, in a nod to the music theme.
All of the rooms have either a balcony or terrace with hammocks and lounge furniture. Rooms that face the pool and ocean beyond may have some of the best views, but can also suffer from the most noise during high season due to pool traffic. Other rooms look out over the interior of the property and neighboring rooms, or the surrounding jungle lagoon and coastline north and south of the property. Some of the rooms have a rooftop terrace reachable via a narrow stairway behind the bed. The minibar items, liquor dispenser, coffeemakers with coffee and bottled water, and 24-hour room service are included in the all-inclusive rates. On the technology front, there are flat-screen TVs, streaming music, safes, and free Wi-Fi.
The whirlpool tubs are a focal point of the rooms, and sit near the bed. They are adorned with mosaic tiles and set against a flagstone block wall. The bathroom is just around the corner, and continues the rock wall finish blended with faux-marble countertops, patterned tile floors, dark-finished cabinets, cream-colored marble tile showers with transparent glass doors, and a separate toilet rooms. Kohler and Rock Spa toiletries are provided, as are hairdryers, slippers, and robes.
A huge freeform pool with swim-up bar and waterslide, and an underwhelming man-made beach
There is a big freeform, oceanfront pool with a waterslide, waterfalls, bridges, a swim-up bar, and whirlpools. There's also a zero-entry kiddy pool with fun splash water features. There are no staff members monitoring the pool during the evening hours, so few guests use the pool at night. The beach is not a high point; it is man-made and fronts a shallow lagoon separated from the ocean by a rocky barrier.
Activities include swimming, snorkeling and kayaking in the resort’s man-made beach and lagoon area. The Little Big Club has supervised activities and fun shows for children under 12, while The Cavern is a teens' lounge with movies, game consoles, and evening events. Live shows are held at the theater or by the beach in the evenings. There are also tennis courts, a small teens' gym, and a climbing wall.
As part of the rock'n-roll theme, guests can borrow one of the hotel’s Fender guitars (limited by availability) practice via free video lessons. There are a variety of shops in The Hacienda selling items ranging from clothes to personal hygiene items to jewelry. Parking is available; guests can either park behind the convention center and then walk 10 minutes to the Hacienda lobby, or use valet parking.
The hotel operates a Limitless Resort Credit feature that allows guests on longer stays (from three to 15 days during our visit) to earn points that can be applied toward spa treatments, adventure tours offered by third-party vendors, or other features. There is 87,017 square feet of event space, a business center, a dedicated conference service manager, and space for outdoor events. Audio/visual equipment can be rented.
Six restaurants, including Mexican, Italian, Asian, and buffet options
There are six
restaurants and two bars at the hotel. The Market is the international buffet, while Pizzeto serves pasta and wood-fired pizzas. Frida serves Mexican specialties a la carte,
while the chain Ipanema offers its Brazilian rodizio coupled
with seaside views. Zen focuses on Asian food, while Caffeto serves breakfast
and snacks. There is also 24-hour room service. Note that the
restaurant hours vary and may change depending on the season.
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